Pictured at the Feb. 27, 2016, World Rotary Day workday is the Farragut Rotary team of past president Peggy Wilson, former member Emily Carroll, Patty Daughtrey and Chris Camp.

Partnerships have interesting beginnings and this one began on Feb. 27, 2016, at Ridgedale School – a unique school that is a combination school helping middle school alternative students on one floor and K-12 special education students on its other level. On that 2016 date the school was the site for World Rotary Day when Rotarians from all seven local clubs came together for a workday.

The Rotary Club of Farragut was represented by now club president Chris Camp, past president Peggy Wilson, then-secretary Patty Daughtrey and former member Emily Carroll. The club’s interest in the school kept growing, led by Camp.

Today, our club is a Partner in Education with this special school on Western Avenue. Since its students are from all over Knox County, the school does not have what most schools have – a PTA that supports the school.

Recently, Camp and our two special projects co-chairs – Mary Ann Ingram and Megan Belcher – met with Ridgedale principal Diana Gossett to discuss some projects that our club could do to help this school. From that meeting came a list of five projects approved by the club’s board of directors this past Wednesday.

This partnership began at our Wednesday meeting with the sale of the popular $10 coupon books sold by students. Members bought 80 books, which translates into $800 – of which $640 goes directly to the school. The club will continue selling the books.

“I am so thrilled by this partnership,” Gossett said. “I can’t believe it has mushroomed into this after you all coming here to work in 2016. We’ve never had a partnership like this. It’s a great beginning and I can’t tell you how excited we are about this.”

Here are the projects the club will be doing this school year:

  1. Selling Coupon Books – We will encourage members to purchase them not only for themselves but to give away to neighbors, friends or simply as a random act of kindness.
  2. Fall Festival Pumpkin Decorating Booth – On Friday, Oct. 27, the club will provide pumpkins, decorating supplies and volunteers.
  3. Locker Painting – On a Saturday to be determined, club members will paint the lockers in the rooms. The club will provide paint and any other materials needed.
  4. Teacher/Staff Appreciation – The club will provide one lunch and possibly two for the teachers and staff of approximately 75. We will also provide nine gift cards ($20-$25 each) for the monthly attendance award drawing.
  5. Positive Behavior Program – We will hold a drive and ask Rotarians to donate items for the school’s store. Date of drive to be determined.

President Camp had this to say about this new partnership. “Ridgedale is a school without a PTA to help support it and more than 90 percent of its students are on free or reduced lunches. And Diana Gossett and her staff are so appreciative of what we have done and will be doing. They deserve our support and I’m proud that our club is stepping forward with this project. This really shows that our club is making a difference.”

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Written by Tom King